NYT on Algeria

Unfortunate beginning to this NYT story on Algeria:
ALGIERS — In the 1990's, Algeria was the Iraq of the Arab world, ripping out its own heart in a bloodbath that pitted a rising Islamist movement against military death squads, killing more than 100,000 people. It was a model of hell on earth.
Er... in the 1990s, Iraq was the Iraq of the Arab world.

Anyway, it's good that the august newspaper of record is bringing attention to the problems with the general amnesty the Algerian government has granted (it would have been ever better if they mentioned that discussing the identity of the perpetrators of the civil war's crimes is now illegal), but isn't it a little bit late? The charter for national reconciliation, as the Algerian government calls its attempt to bury the past, went through in February. At the time I quoted Le Monde:
The text adopted by the government puts them [security personnel] beyond the reach of legal pursuits, even if infractions have been committed. They have “shown proof of patriotism,” and “no lawsuit can be made, individually or collectively,” against them. “Any denunciation or complaint regarding [security personnel] will not be accepted,” the documents adds, while adding that “any declaration, written or otherwise, using or instrumentalizing the wounds of national tragedy to attack national institutions, weaken the state, damage the honor its agents… or to sully the image of Algeria internationally” will be sanctioned.
The lack of coverage of the Maghreb in major US newspapers is really quite astounding.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.